UN: UN urges concerted action to end violence against women, girls

New York, US (PANA) - Expressing deep concern about atrocities being committed
against women and girls in conflict zones, as well as the domestic abuse found globally,
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday marked the International Day for the
Elimination of Violence against Women by urging collective action to end such crimes.

"I am deeply concerned about the plight of women and girls living in conditions of
armed conflict, who suffer various forms of violence, sexual assault, sexual slavery
and trafficking.

"Violent extremists are perverting religious teachings to justify the mass subjugation
and abuse of women," Ban stated in a message to mark the International Day, observed
annually on 25 November.

He stressed that "such crimes are not merely random acts of violence or the incidental
fallout of war, but rather systematic efforts to deny women’s freedoms and control their

He also emphasized: "As the world strives to counter and prevent violence extremism,
the protection and empowerment of women and girls must be a key consideration."

The UN chief said that even in areas of peace, violence against women exists in
the form of femicide, sexual assault, female genital mutilation/cutting, early marriage
and cyber-violence, which traumatize individuals and "tear at the fabric of society."

Ban noted that he is leading the global response through programmes such as the
"UNiTE to End Violence against Women" campaign and the "HeForShe", which aim
to engage men in promoting gender equality.

He called for increased contributions from the governments to the UN Trust Fund to
End Violence against Women, citing severe under-investment in this area.

He announced that to mark the International Day, iconic landmarks ranging from the
historic ruins at Petra in Jordan to the Niagara Falls in North America will be
illuminated in orange lights, as sign of the growing momentum for change.

"Millions of people across the world are uniting under the banner colour orange,
chosen to symbolize the brighter future of a world free from violence against women
and girls," the secretary-general explained.

Ban also recalled that the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
recognizes the importance of eliminating violence against women, with related
targets across several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He noted that recent reviews of the UN peace operations, peacebuilding efforts, and
the women, peace and security agenda highlighted the critical value of women’s
participation in peace and security.

The UN chief further urged everyone to "join forces to end this crime, promote full
gender equality and realize a world where women and girls enjoy the safety they
deserve for their sake and for all of humanity."

On her part, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka reiterated
the urgent need to eliminate violence against women, noting that, "it is most
tolerated human rights violation in the world."

She stressed that violence against women is largely a cause and a consequence
of gender inequality and discrimination, saying: "Its continued presence is
one of the clearest markers of societies out of balance, and we are determined
to change that."

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said that violence against women and girls is not acceptable
or inevitable, and stressed that it can be prevented.

"Although there is no single solution to such a complex problem, there is growing
evidence of the range of actions that can stop violence before it happens, especially
if they are implemented in parallel. Further, research currently underway will lead
to more definitive strategies and interventions to prevent violence," she stated.

She said that collaborative action, from governments to individuals, could
tackle the unequal power relations and structures between men and women and
highlight the necessary attitudinal, practice and institutional changes.

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka stressed domestic violence, abusive text messages,
the impunity of rapists, the enslavement of women in conflict areas, the killing
of women human rights defenders, or the hostility of police stations or
courtrooms to women’s testimony of violence experienced, as some of the
areas where prevention can be implemented before violence.

"We have made progress in improving the laws that distinguish these acts and
others as ones of violence and invasion of human rights.

"Some 125 countries have laws against sexual harassment, 119 have laws
against domestic violence, but only 52 countries have laws on marital rape.
We know that leaders, whether CEOs, Prime Ministers, or teachers, can set the
tone for zero tolerance to violence," she stated.

Also, in a statement, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women,
its causes and consequences, Ms. Dubravka Simonovic, urged all UN member
states to focus on prevention of gender-related killing of women by establishing
a "Femicide Watch."

"Violence against women is the most atrocious manifestation of the systematic
and widespread discrimination and inequality that women and girls around the
world continue to face.

"Women and their children continue to die as victims of gender related killing,
often in cruel ways.

"The weaknesses of national prevention systems, lack of proper risk
assessment and the scarcity or poor quality of data are major barriers in
preventing gender-related killing of women and developing meaningful
prevention strategies," said Ms. Simonovic.

She called on all States to establish a "Femicide Watch" or a "Gender-Related
Killing of Women Watch" and to publish on each International Day on the
Elimination of violence against Women, the number of femicides,
disaggregated by age and sex of the perpetrators, including publishing
information concerning the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators.

"The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence should be used to
present such data and discuss actions needed for prevention of those
preventable deaths of women," Ms.Simonovic said.
-0-   PANA   AA/AR  25Nov2015

25 november 2015 17:26:36

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